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Green Your…T-Shirt

April 18, 2008

Welcome to Shades of Green. I know there are more blogs out there than anyone has time to read. I will be highlighting the latest and greatest green tips and trends.

GREEN YOUR…

An intriguing new web site just launched: www.greenyour.com. Want to know how to green your cat’s litter box? Or about greener washing machines? This site aims to be a hub to help consumers learn about green products and provides suggestions for companies offering the best products by category.

The site includes over 2000 pages of facts, tips and products. It will be a great resource for consumers who want to talk with the dollars and make greener purchases.

Screening Criteria:  What is Green?

They use the following screening criteria for their products:

A GreenYour product must meet one or more of the following:

  • Green Certification: The product or its principal components are certified and labeled by a credible environmental organization such as EPA’s Energy Star program, USDA Organic, Greenguard, Green Seal, EcoLogo, or the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Green Attributes: The product or its principal components are extracted, harvested, manufactured, distributed, consumed, or disposed in an environmentally or socially responsible way. Green attributes also can relate to materials or ingredients that are ecologically responsible in nature, such as post-consumer recycled content paper, organic cotton, or bamboo, as well as socially responsible business practices, such as Fair Trade practices.
  • Green Yield: The product allows the consumer to reduce his or her direct greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water use, or waste. Examples include reusable water bottles, public transportation, CFL lightbulbs, or low-flow fixtures.

The key flaw that jumps out at me is that a product can have green attributes, such as organic cotton or bamboo, but depending on how it is manufactured and dyed, can still include toxic chemicals.

A GREEN T-SHIRT?

I have recently been researching the environmental issues associated with polyester shirts for a client, so I was curious to see what came up under the Green Your T-shirt category. They provide six tips you can do to green your t-shirt and also have sections called “facts” and “products”.

I liked the six tips and the suggestions for T-shirts, including to choose ecofriendly fibers or a used shirt.

The facts section is a bit weak on highlighting the serious environmental and health impacts of producing and wearing polyester shirts. Perhaps this would be too much detail for the average consumer.

For those of you curious, it is a win-win for the environment and your health to avoid polyester-based clothing. A switch to bamboo or other natural fiber provides the following environmental and health benefits:

  • The fabric is Antimony free, reducing cumulative personal exposure to this toxic chemical, when you exercise. The average T-shirt has upto 45 mg of Antimony in it and up to 10% can leach out onto your skin during exercise.
  • Dioxin free–many dyes used on polyester contain Dioxin–highly toxic at low levels.
  • Biodegradability–a polyester T-shirt will live for decades and decades in a landfill.
  • Reduced petroleum consumption–it takes 1 gallon of petroleum to produce one polyester T-shirt
  • Less Antimony and Dioxins released as industrial pollutants into the air and water at factories
  • Improved worker safety

If a green T-shirt really means wearing the ones we have or buying one from a used clothing store, do we really need recommendations of a dozen of companies providing green clothing? How do we know which one’s are avoiding dyes with Dioxins?

The challenge with a site like Green Your is how complex many of the green product issues are.

BUY GREEN

I am selling green products on my web site (www.greenimpact.com/buy_green/) and have the same challenges. How do I really know if a product is greener?   It is not always so easy to find out, for example, which CFL lightbulb has the least mercury (Phillips) or which T-shirt is Antimony free (bamboo).  And the information on the potential health impacts of cumulative exposure to low-levels of toxins is lacking.

But sometimes a gal just wants to go shopping…

Deborah


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